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SCORE in Laughlin

Posted in Events on March 19, 2003
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Red skies hovered over Laughlin's Casinos on a wind-swept Friday night as nerves ran high in anticipation of the 9th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge, a 93-mile long, open-course desert race. By the time the sun broke over the peaks on Saturday, the Riverside City Valley was covered in dust as all manner of off-road racing machines attacked the course.

The big guns of off-road racing were in attendance, attracting droves of race fans from surrounding states. The grandstands and surrounding hillsides were a sea of cheering hard-core enthusiasts. When Trophy Trucks thundered the valley at wide-open throttle, the collateral damage commenced. Mark Post and Jerry Welchel (#3) had the fastest times on Saturday and Sunday with the Riviera Racing truck, taking their first win at the Desert Challenge. Gus Vildosola Sr. (#4) fell to Fifth position after Saturday's heat race. Vildosola's codriver, Rob MacCachren, pulled out a can of whoop-ass and put two minutes between Gus' Ford and three other teams. That move pulled the Vildosola team up to Second place. After a decent run on Saturday, the Collins (#12) truck fell off the pace on Sunday. The truck's brakes locked up during the fist lap, and suspension problems held Brian Collins to Third place.

When the Pro Truck checkered flag flew, a bright-orange F-150 was in the lead. On Saturday, Jeff Dickerson (#233) lead the pack with the F-150, and on Sunday, Jimmy Knuckles took the same truck and increased that lead to 55 seconds (elapsed time). Red Bull, with two-time defending champion Steve Barlow (#299) at the wheel, moved up from Third to Second on Saturday but just couldn't take down the orange machine. Brian Ickler (#2110) moved to a different class this year. After winning the TECATE 250 last season, he decided to give Pro Truck a run. He had problems shifting the transmission and got stuck in First gear, but he was still able to fight off Vic Bruckmann, defending champion, for the Third position.

In our opinion, there were two trucks on the course that really turned heads. A metallic blue, GM V-6-powered Toyota Tundra, built by Nye Frank, an old-school truck builder since the early days of Baja-style racing, showed up at Laughlin. The new truck had some problems during the race, and we can't help to think it was hurt from the Laughin Leap on Friday night. Another one of our favorite trucks was a '70s Ford driven by Jim Beaver. Even though the bulky beast sat a bit taller than most of its competitors, it flew just as high and ran furiously. Even though the desert wind blew hard during SCORE's Laughlin Desert Challenge, die-hard fans hung in there and kept the racers pushing the limits of their ability, making the event another successful chapter in SCORE International's storied history.

9th Annual SCORE Laughlin Desert Challenge

January 16-19 at the Laughlin Events Park, Laughlin, Nevada

Round One of the six-race 2003 SCORE Desert Series

Total starters: 135; Total finishers: 93


Trophy Truck

(Unlimited Production Trucks, 12 starters; 7 finishers)

1. Mark Post, San Juan Capistrano, CA/Jerry Welchel, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA., Ford F-150, Total time: 1:35.20 (58.90 average mph, Second Place overall)

2. Gustavo Vildosola Sr., Mexicali, Mexico/Rob MacCachren, Las Vegas, NV, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:36:38 (Fifth Place overall)

3. Brian Collins, Las Vegas, NV, Chevy Silverado, Total time: 1:37:58 (Sixth Place overall)

4. Tim Herbst, Las Vegas, NV/Ed Herbst, Las Vegas, NV, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:38:50 (Seventh Place overall)

Class 1 (Unlimited single or two seaters; 18 starters; 15 finishers)

1. Dale Ebberts, Canyon Lake, CA., Jimco-Toyota, Total time: 1:33:31, (60.053 average mph; First Place overall)

2. Mark Weyhrich, Troutdale, OR/Gary Weyhrich, Troutdale, OR, Jimco-Chevy, Total time: 1:35:59, (Third Place overall)

3. Bob Lofton, Westmorland, CA./Mike Julson, El Cajon, CA, Jimco-Chevy, Total time: 1:36:03, (Fourth Place overall)

4. Scott McMillin, Poway, CA, Porter-Chevy, Total time: 1:39:12 (Eighth Place overall)

Pro Truck

(Limited Production Trucks, 10 starters; 9 finishers)

1. Jeff Dickerson, Brawley, CA/Jimmy Knuckles, Brawley, CA, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:47:30, (52.242 average mph)

2. Steve Barlow, Temecula, CA, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:48:38

3. Al Hogan, Columbus, MT, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:49:04

4. Chet Huffman, Northridge, CA, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:52:05

Class 3 (Short wheelbase 4x4, 1 starter; 1 finisher)

1. Donald Moss, Sacramento, CA, Ford Bronco, Total time: 1:15:14 (37.866 average mph)

Class 7

(Open Mini Trucks, 7 starters; 4 finishers)

1. Shawn Wanzek, Lake Havasu City, AZ, Ford Ranger, Total time: 1:44:57 (53.511 average mph)

2. Doug Siewert, Oceanside, CA./Bruce Lanfield, Placentia, CA. Chevy S-10, Total time: 1:52:38

3. Cody Kruger, Las Vegas, NV, Ford Ranger, Total time: 1:54:31

Class 7S (Stock Mini Trucks; 4 starters; 2 finishers)

1. Cody Swanty, Kingman, AZ, Jeep Comanche, Total time: 2:06:53 (33.196 average mph)

2. Bob Land, Lake Forest, CA, Chevy S-10, Total time: 2:12:54

Class 8 (Fullsize two-wheel-drive trucks; 7 starters; 3 finishers)

1. Robby Fallers, Peoria, AZ, Chevy Silverado, Total time: 1:51:19 (50.45 average mph)

2. Dave Raimonde, Phoenix, AZ, Chevy C1500, Total time: 1:54:08

3. Joe Patelli, Romoland, CA, Chevy Blazer, Total time: 2:17:26

Stock Fullsize (Stock, Production Fullsize Trucks; 2 starters; 2 finishers)

1. Marc Stein, San Diego, CA, Ford F-150, Total time: 1:43:37 (40.650 average mph)

2. John Griffin, Mission Viejo, CA, AM General Hummer, Total time: 1:53:35

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